Ebisu | Bishamonten | Daikoku | Benzaiten | Fukurokuju | JUROJIN | Hotei
As the God of wisdom, happiness, wealth, longevity and prosperity, Fukurokuju is mostly depicted with a long white beard, unusually high forehead and holds a cane with a hebi or a scroll that is attached to it. As one celestial being in the pantheon of the Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju is considered to be the God of the Southern Cross which represents virility, fertility, wisdom and longevity. The divine being is often represented in paintings in the company of turtle and crane, Taoist symbol of a long life. He is always apart of the Seven Lucky Gods and is never invoked as an individual God.
In sculptures, Fukurokuju is generally depicted with his bald head nearly three times the size of his body. Sometimes, the elongated head takes on phallic representations and is covered with a cap made of cloth. Most of the sculptures hide his hands within the large sleeves.
There are numerous tales about his origin in both China and Japan and according to the Chinese folklore Fukurokuju personifies the mythical Taoist monk who had the divine powers of the Southern Cross or South Pole Star. The book or scroll that he holds in his hand symbolically represents all the knowledge in the world and is sometimes also considered as divine scripture.
However, in both the cultures of Japan and China, Fukurokuju is considered highly auspicious and is often delineated in many different materials such as wood, ivory, precious gemstones and stone as a good luck and harbinger of wisdom and longevity.
Apart from being sculpted with a crane and a tortoise, he is often depicted with a bat and a stag. Often confused with Juroujin, another God amongst the Seven Lucky Gods, the difference is visible in the number of animals and the cup of wine that is synonymous with Juroujin.
The major confusion arises as both are portrayed with the same short body structure, high forehead and animals. However, only Juroujin is considered to be fond of sake not Fukurokuju. The lucky mascot that is known to bring in good luck, virility and wisdom, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju is continuing the legends that make up the basic fiber of Japanese mythology.
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